ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Education and Science»
  • Life Sciences»
  • Endangered Species

The endangered Albatross is a victim of plastic pollution

Updated on October 30, 2015

The plight of the endangered Albatross species

The magnificent seabird known as the albatross is in serious danger and as many as 19 of the 21 species known are threatened with extinction. Today I watched what I can only describe as the saddest video I have ever seen.

Albatross chicks are dying because their parents feed them with plastic items that they have mistaken for food such as squid and other marine creatures. The baby birds cannot digest the plastic and they die and their parents can do nothing. The poor birds don't even know what is killing them.

Buy the Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Rime of the Ancient Mariner

The albatross was immortalised in the words of the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner in which the seaman is punished for killing one of these birds by having it hung around his neck.Today,whilst the birds are dying from many human causes no one is being punished for their deaths.

Albatrosses have so much against their chances of survival. For a start, they take over five years before they are sexually mature. Many types then mate for life after an elaborate courtship dance, and under ideal conditions the birds would have a long life and a successful marriage. Sadly this is no longer the case for many of them.

Besides the increasing threat of marine plastic pollution that is killing chicks, albatrosses are dying because they get caught on fishing lines and drown. They are also having problems finding enough food in overfished seas.

On the islands where the birds breed another danger is caused by introduced species such as cats and rats, against which they have no natural defences. Albatrosses evolved to breed on land where there were no predators.

In the past albatrosses have been hunted both as food and for their feathers.

Albatross photo

Phoebastria immutabilis (Laysan Albatross) breeding.
Phoebastria immutabilis (Laysan Albatross) breeding.
Albatross chick remains
Albatross chick remains

David de Rothschild and the Plastiki

In 2010, adventurer, author and environmentalist David de Rothschild went on an expedition across the Pacific Ocean on a catamaran built entirely from recycled plastic water bottles.

This strange craft was known as the Plastiki, and one of David's aims was to raise global awareness about the danger of marine pollution and the threat to seabirds, turtles and other forms of life that mistake plastic for food items. He sailed from San Francisco in America all the way to Sydney in Australia.

The Plastiki travelled past the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is a vast mass of floating rubbish said to be as big as the State of Texas. Most of it is floating plastic.

Plastic trash that gets thrown away can end up carried by the ocean currents to add to the mass of garbage or it can end up killing a turtle that thought a plastic bag was a jellyfish or a baby albatross whose parents fed a plastic item to it.

I find it hard to think of anything that would be so tragic and sad as the extinction of these beautiful birds brought about by our throwaway consumer culture's plastic rubbish.

World biggest garbage dump - plastic in the Ocean

© 2010 Steve Andrews


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Bard of Ely profile image

      Steve Andrews 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thank you, Jayjay!

    • jayjay40 profile image

      jayjay40 8 years ago from Bristol England

      How dreadful that things like this happen. Thanks for high-lighting this issue

    • Bard of Ely profile image

      Steve Andrews 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thank you, Peter!

    • Peter Dickinson profile image

      Peter Dickinson 8 years ago from South East Asia

      The plastic is truly terrible and I have used those photos in my blog before. Equally as bad though is the huge number of birds hooked and drowned by long line fishing. This is where hundreds of baited hooked lines are trailed off the back of a boat. The Albatrosses dive down on the bait and are hooked and drown. They are getting a really rough deal. Thanks for the hub.

    • Bard of Ely profile image

      Steve Andrews 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Yes, Graham, very sadly it looks that way! Thank you for posting!

    • profile image

      Graham 8 years ago

      The odds certainly seemed stacked against this creature. The oceans and seas are viewed as nothing more than `dumping grounds` and because of their vastness there is little policing that can be done.

    • Bard of Ely profile image

      Steve Andrews 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thank you, Alex, for your comments, doing your bit and supporting the Plastiki pledge. I agree with you that the companies that create plastic are being irresponsible. I remember paper bags and glass bottles but now in supermarkets where most people shop so many things are packaged in plastic. I think it is up to individuals to decide for themselves what they should do. I know from listening to David de Rothschild that he feels that we are not going to get rid of plastic, nor should we, but we should be looking at new ways of using it and increasing recycling. Personally I would love companies and shops to go back to glass bottles and jars and paper bags. All that way used to work fine.

    • profile image

      ALex 8 years ago

      hmm, nasty. thanks for doing the hub, maybe could do with a bit more about what we your readers can do to stop it. as for who is to blame, yes the people who throw plastic away like that are, but so also are individuals in the plastics industry, pursuing money over the environment, putting plastics in places where card or paper or wood could be used. i went to the pastiki site and took the pledge but i already do all i can to reduce plastic use and recycle and clear up wild environs when i'm out.

    • Bard of Ely profile image

      Steve Andrews 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thank you, Ann!

    • Ann Nonymous profile image

      Ann Nonymous 8 years ago from Virginia

      Very interesting hub and I had no idea! The graphic pics help raise awareness of this plight. So, well done hub, Bard of Ely!

    • Bard of Ely profile image

      Steve Andrews 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Unfortunately plastics are now in the food chain. Fish, whales, turtles and seabirds are all swallowing plastic if it is only the tiny particles in the water. Plankton feeders are unable to only eat plankton. In some places there are six parts of plastic to one of plankton. That is how insane this is. Also all plastic that has ever been made with the exception of plastic which has been incinerated or recycled still exists somewhere in the environment. There is a lot in landfills but a tremendous amount is in the marine environment worldwide. No one can say what the long-term damage will be from this. Yes, you are right it is very very sad indeed!

      Please see what David de Rothschild has had to say on the subject here:

    • nextstopjupiter profile image

      nextstopjupiter 8 years ago from here, there and everywhere

      All those who are responsible for producing these plastics should be forced to eat them for one day, but maybe it is already too late for the albatrosses, very sad story ...

    • Bard of Ely profile image

      Steve Andrews 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thank you Katiem2 and Laurel!

      Katiem2, I agree with you, and please do do a piece like this, and Laurel, yes, it is criminal!

    • lorlie6 profile image

      Laurel Rogers 8 years ago from Bishop, Ca

      What a sad commentary this is. I had no idea of the totality of the ecosystem in which seabirds and turtles exist.

      This is criminal.


    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 8 years ago from I'm outta here

      What we can DO.... is everything! Every little thing each of us does is mounting! Lets mount some heaping pressure. For one BUY less plastic. BUY less junk.... WOW great work and we could all do pieces like this one. It's insane to know many cities don't have a recycling program. It should be a LAW. What good are laws anyway if not for the good of all. Don't get me started. Peace and thanks for the AMAZING Work! Peace :)

    • Bard of Ely profile image

      Steve Andrews 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      To my mind it could be cleaned up if fleets of special trawlers were sent to collect it and take it back to land where it could be sorted and recycled accordingly. This is what governments should spend money on in a sane world. It would take many years but it could be done.

    • profile image

      ralwus 8 years ago

      Yes, I have been aware of this problem for some time now. The area in the Pacific is like the Sargasso Sea with its natural flotsam and seaweeds, only this is made up of tennis shoes and plastic bags and much more. I think if people would just do away with the bags it would help, but much damage has been done. How to clean it all up is the question. Man is so stupid yet so brilliant, we need a brilliant answer.

    • Bard of Ely profile image

      Steve Andrews 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thank you again for posting Nicomp, and thank you too, Shalini and 2patricias! I agree it needs a lot of publicity. That is one thing David de Rothschild is achieving via his Plastiki expedition.

    • 2patricias profile image

      2patricias 8 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

      We live by the sea and are appalled at the plastic that is washed up with every tide.

      Our contribution is to try to reduce the amount of packaging that we buy (and sometimes we write to big companies to complain about packaging) plus we are enthusiastic about recycling.

      Thanks for this hub - this issue needs a lot of publicity.

    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 8 years ago from India

      This is so sad - yes, maybe the only thing we can do right now is to halt the damage and try and look at alternatives instead of just living for the day and not thinking about tomorrow!

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 8 years ago from Ohio, USA

      "Anyone got a very big idea on what to do? God bless the indestructible plastics manufacturers and the oil companies that killed off..."

      Sure, and let's blame GM for every car accident. It's not Big Plastic's fault that their customers are pigs.

    • Bard of Ely profile image

      Steve Andrews 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thanks, Fen! Yes, the scale of this is mind-blowing in a nightmarish way! It is insanity! As I see it the best we can do now is stop it getting any worse and get more businesses using recycled plastics and get more and more recycling being actually done. The only way this will happen is if enough people take action so first of all they need to know what is going on.

    • fen lander profile image

      fen lander 8 years ago from Whitstable

      Aaggh! I can hardly take in what we've allowed to happen. How can we solve this? Anyone got a very big idea on what to do? God bless the indestructible plastics manufacturers and the oil companies that killed off hemp production via back-door legislation leaving us with little alternative but to destroy the world we live on, using the plastics products which have made them wealthy.

      Great article Bard.

    • Bard of Ely profile image

      Steve Andrews 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thank you for your posts, Nicomp and Ralph!

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 8 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Nice job. Too bad.

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 8 years ago from Ohio, USA

      Anthropogenic global warming is nonsense but The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is undeniable. If Al Gore truly cared about this little blue marble we call home, he'd focus on this planetary mess. It's a bad bad thing.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: ""

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)